United Torah Judaism met this week to discuss how to deal with an amendment to the law regulating the drafting of girls into the IDF, which has been passed by the government.
A few weeks ago the government tried to pass a bill calling for the setup of a mechanism to monitor young women who choose not to enter the army for religious reasons. MKs from various chareidi parties lashed out at the move, calling it a blatant violation of the status quo. Their objections were based on opposition to the drafting of girls in any case, and as such UTJ threatened the move would precipitate a coalition crisis since the written agreement says that such matters must be approved by the religious parties.
Government and military officials then met with representatives of the chareidi parties, agreeing to a number of important changes to the amendment, which led to the draft that was approved this week.
According to the approved draft, if an IDF inspector proves a young woman who requested a draft deferment for religious reasons does not keep a religious lifestyle at all, her deferral can be appealed before two people — neither of whom is a judge as originally required — one of whom is a rov appointed by the Chief Rabbinate Council. If differences of opinion emerge, both people can lay forth their arguments, and the young woman can present the professional opinion of the rov in court.
In the original draft no allowances were made to appeal an army official's decision to re-draft a girl found to be secular for all intents and purposes. Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that Torah-true Jewry and its Knesset representatives stand firmly opposed to the notion of drafting all girls.
Early this week UTJ held a meeting to discuss how to proceed in the matter, in accordance with the directives of gedolei Yisroel. Party Chairman MK Rabbi Eliezer Moses invited to the meeting chareidi activists who have been involved in the issue for years.
Rabbi Gafni said that although there may be a small minority of young women who take advantage of the law, the vast majority come from traditional homes and choose not to serve in the army for reasons related to tznius. "This is an ideological battle against traditionalists," he told the Knesset. "We are completely opposed to mandatory enlistment, but the main debate, excluding the chareidi public, surrounds the traditional sector," he said, before storming out of the meeting. In light of his clear opposition the government rejected the original bill.